I feel very lucky to have travelled extensively through France and have done so many times by train. Train travel is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get around in France. Plus it’s a good way to see some of the gorgeous countryside and dramatic coastlines that it’s blessed with.

I’ve only ever had positive experiences with train travel in France. Trains always seems to be reliable, on-time and are seriously cost-effective if you’re travelling on a tight budget, or just want to save your cash for more exciting things on your travels.

Here are my top tips for travelling by train in France…

Validate your tickets

The most important thing when it comes to train travel in France is to be sure to validate your tickets after you’ve bought them.

You’ll see small yellow validation machines dotted around the train stations. All you have to do is pop your tickets in them individually and it puts a mark on them to show they’ve been validated.

If you don’t validate your tickets you are liable to be fined so it’s not worth the hassle.

Leave yourself with plenty time

Making sure you’re at the train station in plenty time to catch your train is something I’d advise when travelling by train in any country.

If you haven’t already purchased your tickets and plan to do so at the station then you might find there are long queues (I don’t know why but there always seems to be queues in stations in France!), your platform might be far away, you need to validate your tickets and a whole multitude of other things could go wrong. Make sure you’re at the station with plenty of time to spare to save any mishaps or missed trains.

Buy long distance tickets in advance

For TGV high-speed trains and long distance journeys tickets come with a seat reservation included and prices can vary depending on when you buy them. Generally, booking well in advance gives you the cheapest fares (just like with flights!) and you can normally book around 90 days before your date of travel.

Use self service machines

All of the train stations I’ve been to in France have had self service machines available to use. You can buy tickets for all routes using these machines and often save waiting in long queues to be served by a member of staff instead.

The machines are available to use in many different languages by clicking the corresponding country flag. You can only use chip and pin debit or credit cards in these machines, so if you don’t have one of these then wait in line to be served by a member of staff instead.

Have you travelled by train in France before? Do you have any tips to share?